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Taeguk Warriors’ Collapse In World Cup Qualifier Against Saudi Arabia

Taeguk Warriors’ Collapse In World Cup Qualifier Against Saudi Arabia

Posted March. 27, 2005 23:22,   


The mobility and vitality that Taeguk Warriors had shown by winning a sweeping victory over Kuwait in the opening game of the final round of Asian qualifiers on February 9 was nowhere to be found.

Even with Seol Ki-hyeon, Lee Dong-gook and Lee Chun-soo as the three forwards, and with Park Ji-sung and Kim Nam-il at midfield, Korea failed to get any chances on offense, making frequent passing mistakes. The three-back defense led by Yoo Sang-chul was not different.

A Lack of Strategy for Mr. Bonfrere-

Johannes Bonfrere, the head coach of the Korean national football team, had been confident of his team’s victory, saying that he had “already finished an analysis on the Saudi Arabian team,” but was in fact totally misled by Saudi Arabia’s strategy. Most of the training sessions were focused on penetrating the Saudi three-back defense with slow moves. When it turned out that Saudi Arabia actually adopted a four-back formation, however, the Korean offense was thrown into utter confusion, failing to find any routes to the goal. The Saudi team succeeded in scoring goals by penetrating the Korean team’s three-back defense.

KBS Commentator Lee Yong-soo said, “When the counterpart changed course with a 4-4-2 formation, there should have been relevant changes in our team’s strategy as well. Unfortunately, there were none in today’s match. Lateral offensive attempts were totally blocked, and Lee Dong-guk was at a loss, checked by tall defensive fielders.” SBS Commentator Shin Moon-sun said, “I really don’t understand why [Bonfrere] insisted upon choosing players in poor condition, such as Yoo Sang-chul, Lee Chun-soo and Kim Dong-jin, as today’s starters.”

Netizens also made harsh criticisms of Mr. Bonfrere’s “poor strategy,” citing that he “mistimed switching Lee Chun-soo and Kim Nam-il, something that should have been done much earlier.”

March 30’s Korea-Uzbekistan Match Will Be a Turning Point-

Korea should win a victory over Uzbekistan by all means, in the third game of the final round, which will be held on March 30 at Seoul World Cup Stadium. It is highly likely that the Korean team could lose its ticket to the 2006 World Cup in Germany if it draws or loses.

Uzbekistan is widely considered the underdog in Group A. The team, however, could be a difficult one for Korea to deal with, as it plays European-style soccer based on superior physical strength. “The Uzbek team is superb in terms of the capabilities of each individual player, but can be easily defeated if we distract the concentration of those players by pushing them back,” says Mr. Shin. “Korean players should immediately recover from the shock of their defeat by the Saudi team and bring more focus into their upcoming match with Uzbekistan. The key question here is how to stabilize the defense line with the few players currently available.”

“[We are] worried about the conditions of players who will have to start another match only four days after traveling between Korea and Saudi Arabia (a six hour difference). The most important thing is for Bonfrere to give a boost to his players and restabilize the team,” say experts.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com